Selling your Home - Marketing
This blog post is the second in a series on 'Selling your home'. The series will explain, step by step, important considerations and events that will occur if you plan to sell your home in the near future. The first step in the series, which covered Preparation, can be found on our blog.
Marketing your home for sale effectively is an important skill for an agent. A large number of agents use the 3 P's principle - 'P'ut a sign on the property, 'P'lace the home into the MLS system, and 'P'ray.... This is NOT the way you should sell the most expensive asset you own. When selling your home the key to maximizing the net sales price is exposure. Exposure, Exposure, Exposure.
Exposure is key
It all comes down to foot traffic in the door. Its easier to describe this statistically with ratios. Say for instance that 10% of the buyers who walk through your door will love your home, then if you have only 10 people view your home during its critical marketing period, then potentially you only have one interested buyer. If you have 100 buyers view your home during this same period, then potentially you have ten interested buyers. Obviously the more foot traffic in the door, the better your opportunity to maximize the price you will get for your home.
There are a number of methods to use that increase the exposure your home has to the buying community. Beginning with the 'standard' - Photos, US Postal service, Printed materials, Print advertising, Sign in the yard, Open Houses, Broker Opens. Some of the additional techniques that can be used to expose your home to the largest number of buyers are - Dedicated website for your home, QR codes and a custom built smartphone website for your home, Home Movie, 3D tour, Floor plans, Targeted mailings to potential buyers, Statistical data.
Even the standard marketing activities can be expanded on and enhanced to increase exposure of your home. This newsletter will describe all of these marketing activities in detail. If your agent is not planning on doing any of these activities, or only a subset of these activities, you have to ask yourself, and your agent, 'Why not?'
Over 90% of buyers search for a home on the internet, via any number of online tools and websites. Improving the visibility and impression that your home makes online is a key skill for an experienced agent who focuses on marketing. Most agents will just take a few photos of your house, and that is that. The agents who are focused on selling your home for the highest net price will either use a professional to take their photos, or take photos with professional equipment to obtain the best lighting, clarity and wide angle lens to get the best photos of the home. MLS allows up to 30 photos for a home and your agent should use as many photos as they can to show buyers the features of your home. You would be horrified, and probably surprised, at how many listings have just a handful of photos to advertise the home.
US Postal Service
Some agents will mail 20-50 postcards out to announce your home coming onto the market. These are generally 3" x 5" postcards, and they are sent out to neighbors. Most agents will send none! A smaller percentage of agents, who are concerned about marketing your home, will send upwards of 200+ of 5" x 8" or 8" x 12" postcards, and will not just send them to your neighbors, but will send them to a targeted list of potential buyers for your home. Neighbors are an important source of buyers as some folks know people who would like to buy in their area, but a targeted list is also important.
Quality printed materials, available for all private showings, and available to Open House attendees can elevate the 'feel' of the home to buyers. If a buyer goes to two houses in a row, and one provides quality printed materials with glossy photos and lots of information, and the other simply prints a sheet from MLS, then the home with quality printed material stands out, and appears to the buyer to provide a different level of value for the home.
Most agents will rely on their realty company to provide the print advertising for the homes they sell. As you can imagine, most realty companies have a large number of agents working for them. As an example, Coldwell Banker in Lexington has 60+ agents working out of the office, as do many other realty companies. It is not enough to rely on the advertising the office provides. The realty office has advertising dollars which are then shared between all of the listings for that office. Agents who are concerned with marketing the homes they have listed, will advertise independently of the print ads the office provides, and will have dedicated ads.
Sign in the yard
The sign in front of your home should provide as much information as possible to potential buyers who may drive by. At a minimum it should have the details of the listing agent with contact info, not just for the office, but for the agent. A buyer calling the office when driving by, will be very unlikely to speak to the agent who knows most about the house, but will speak to someone who is answering the phones and will not know the home well. Some agents have a sign rider (hanging from the main sign) with a QR code linking the buyer to a smartphone website providing all the information available on the home. Some agents also have the website address on it for buyers to access when in front of their computer to obtain more information.
Open houses are key to maximizing exposure to your home in the first few weeks of your home being on the market. The first two to three weeks of your home being on the market are critical to getting the highest net price for your home. The serious buyers, those who are ready to buy today, will make arrangements to get in to see the house, either with their agent for a private showing, or during the first one or two open houses. Having multiple open houses the first weekend, Saturday and Sunday, allows more opportunities for those serious buyers to get in to see the home. Once the first few weekends have passed the 'traffic' in the open house is generally buyers who are just beginning to enter the market, and who will buy in the future, just not now because they are not ready. Make sure your agent plans to hold several open houses in the first few critical weeks.
In some towns, broker opens are very important in getting 'the word out' to agents in the area about your home and are always held in the first week of the home coming on the market. The aim is to have the agent preview the home for their buyers and hopefully the home will be perfect for one of their buyers - remembering that the serious buyers always have agents working with them as buyers agents. The best sign during a broker tour is to spot an agent outside in his/her car, after having seen the home, on the phone to their buyers to tell them about the perfect house for them.
The categories mentioned so far are pretty 'standard fare', albeit only a few agents will do all of the previously mentioned items well. The next categories of marketing are rarely done by agents. This is how you differentiate the agents who will net you maximum dollars - because they are marketing your home, NOT just doing the 3 'P's.
An agent who can generate a dedicated website for your home which has the home address as the URL, is someone who puts additional effort into their marketing and know what they are doing. Obviously this depends on the quality of the website - if it looks very amateurish then this is obviously not desirable. It's all very well to have a website created for the home but it needs to be advertised also...a sign rider hanging on the sign at the front of the home which provides the URL address, and also includes the URL on printed materials and all advertising related to the home. The website should provide information to the buyer about the home, the town, the schools, the floor plan, the 3D tour, the home video, and will answer all their questions and stimulate them to want to see your home.
At the forefront of technology applications in the real estate arena are QR codes. They are not really mainstream yet with general consumer marketing, but their presence is increasing on a daily basis. Agents who have adopted the use of QR codes are using leading edge marketing techniques. When the aim of marketing is to increase exposure of an item, QR codes are critical to the real estate industry. Often I will see consumers at the sign in the front yard of homes I have on the market, with their phone out scanning the QR code for more information. It is not good enough to have a QR code that points a consumer to a general website which has not been developed for smartphones as they are unwieldy and provide little information of a specific nature. What is necessary is for the QR code to link to a website that has been designed and developed for viewing on a smartphone and has all of the information, literally, at the buyers fingertips.
Statistics show that over 90% of all buyers begin their search for a home online. Over 90% of buyers see the home they eventually buy, online before they see it in person. Photos are great, but often it is hard to understand the layout of a home with just photos. Home movies aid a buyer in 'understanding' the home. When buyers 'understand' a home, and the price and location are in the range of what they are looking for, then they are more likely to request a showing of that home. This is key to selling for the best price.
More often than not, when a buyer is viewing a home online, they would like to understand the floor plan of the home to help them decide if the home will work for them or not. Even when a buyer is viewing the home in person, a floor plan can assist the buyer in understanding the layout and appreciating the whole house. Very few agents will provide a floor plan for a home as a marketing tool. The agents who are focused on marketing a home will provide a floor plan. Next time you are looking at a home online, look to see if a floor plan is provided for the home. Having a floor plan prepared by a professional costs money - an agent who is reluctant to spend money on marketing your home is not the agent you want selling your home!
Recently technology advances have put the capability of doing 3D modeling of a home in an agents hands. Whether your agent has invested in this technology is a question you should be asking up front. It allows a buyer to move through the home and see it from any angle from the comfort of their own home. There are 3 main components to the 3D marketing and they include the 3D tour, the Dollhouse view of the home, and the floorplan view of the home with actual furniture shown for scale. The benefits of the 3D marketing are fourfold.
- Its the latest in Technology which wows the buyer and increase exposure and showings for your home
- Your home will sell faster because exposure is key to selling faster and getting the highest pricer for your home.
- It will engage buyers because they will have an immediate, unique sense of the home and will have an increased emotional connection.
- With lots of homes competing for buyers attention your home will immediately stand out from all the rest.
Postcards mailed to neighbors have a certain value. Of more value are postcards mailed to potential buyers. Agents can identify which town the potential buyers are likely to come from but very few agents take the time to work this out and target their advertising to that area. Not only targeting the town where the buyer will potentially currently live, but targeting the demographic of the potential buyer is something that agents should do, but very few do. For instance, if your home is a $400,000 condo your mailings could target renters in the area. This information can be gleaned from public records and looking for all homes that are not owner-occupied. If they are not owner-occupied they are more than likely occupied by tenants. If your home is a $1,500,000 home, an agent can target their mailings to homes in the $800,000 to $1,200,000 owners of homes in the town who could potentially be 'move-up' buyers.
A marketing tool we include all the time is providing statistical data of the town where your home is located. Many buyers are not provided information about the market by their buyers agent and have little understanding of the market dynamics that exist. By providing this information to buyers in a brochure available at the home, and online on the dedicated website for the home, buyers have a comfort level that they understand the market and have the confidence to move forward in their purchase of your home.
The primary aim of marketing is to get buyers in the door. When considering selling your home, ask the 'hard' questions of your agent. If you are getting less than satisfactory answers it might be time to consider an agent who will utilize all of the tools available to give your home the exposure that it needs to sell it for the best price possible.
If you have any questions about any of this then please don't hesitate to reach out to one of us. We would be more than happy to help.